I said farewell to a dear friend last week, Colin Ashdown, who I’ve served alongside for 39 years. I hardly knew him when came to my ordination in Essex as a pastor way back in 1974; little did I know he would turn out to be such a BEST man. It was obvious by the huge turnout at his funeral he was a BEST man (top man!) to loads of others as well
Tributes were paid to him as a FAMILY man by his niece Kirsty and big brother Bill. They thought the world of him! The way he died on Sunday 10th February impacted them deeply. Through out the day as he lay on his bed he kept looking at his watch, then told them if anything happened to him he did not want resuscitation, he didn’t fear dying. In the evening, after watching Songs of Praise, and then a few minutes of a programme on space exploration, he again looked at his watch, then said, ‘I’m ready, take me Lord’, closed his eyes and went to sleep ‘in the Lord’. Awesome.
A tribute to him as a BOYS BRIGADE leader of influence was paid by Patrick Allen who shared most movingly of Colin’s influence on his life as he grew up in a single parent family on a local estate. Colin got him work experience with the GPO where he worked ( now B.T.) and Patrick is now managing director of a successful electrical company. Over 30 men then came forward to join in singing the Boys Brigade hymn ‘We have an anchor that stills the waves...’ Men singing together…awesome!
A tribute to him as a MENTOR was then just about given by Leslie Davis, who broke down several times when telling how Colin had led him to Christ, taught him how to develop his relationship with Jesus, was his best man at his wedding and godparent to his children and always there for him. Seeing men cry is AWESOME!
A tribute to him as a CHURCH leader was given by Steve Henry, and insights gleaned into Colin’s focus of keeping the church anchored to the rock and outward looking. His servant heart made him step into the gap many times, leading the youth work once again (when in his 50’s) and then taking on the job of church treasurer (which he hated, but was actually rather good at!)
A group of young people then got up and spoke of him as CARING Man, telling of how he’d take them out strawberry picking, visiting castles, and exploring London. They found his knowledge of history fascinating. They also mentioned him teaching them to drive and we were staggered to see over 30 other people put there hands up to say he also taught them (and he didn’t like driving!)
My tribute summed it all up, describing him as a man of FAITH; I knew just how much it meant to him when he was 20 years old living on an inner London council estate, discovering that Jesus loved and believed in him so much that he died on the cross for him. The man in sandals became the central focus of his life and in turn made Colin the BEST
- B eliving in others because Christ believed in him
- E ncouraging others to step out of their comfort zones as Christ had encouraged him
- S haring deeply with others the secret truths from God’s word , the Bible, that Christ shared with him morning by morning as Colin spent time reading a chapter from the Bible
- T rusting others with responsibility in the same way Jesus took a risk with trusting Colin.
Colin, indeed a BEST man, and for me and many others a BEST friend. And because of Jesus we know our friendship is not over, we will indeed meet again when the trumpet sounds Reveille for us like it did for Colin on 10th February, ‘Get Up! Time to Get Up! Wake up oh Sleeper!’